Nuri Sahin has reflected on what he learned at Real Madrid, how he is improving at Borussia Dortmund and on the Champions League semi-final.
The Turkish international signed for Madrid in the summer of 2011, but injury interrupted his progress and he was limited to a handful of appearances.
“It was a bit difficult, unlike anything I'd experienced before,” reflected Sahin to Marca this week.
“It started with a fairly long injury and then I didn't get back in form or on top of my game. But I won a League with Real Madrid, worked with Mourinho who is a very special manager, and shared a changing room with fantastic players.
“A year at a club like Real Madrid is always positive. I learned a lot and improved my game in many ways to become a better player... I had hoped to play a lot more, but it wasn't to be.
“Mourinho? We have a great relationship. He is an honest person. He was always very honest with me and I appreciate it. He's very special, both as a manager and as an individual. He's a real gentleman, someone who always helps you and motivates you. My memories of him are good.”
The midfielder revealed that Jose Mourinho intended to keep hold of him this season.
“Mourinho and I spoke in the pre-season, after the first week of training. I told him I wanted to go on loan for a year in order to play more regularly, that this was the best way to get my game back.
“He told me I didn't have to leave, that he wanted me to stay and wait for my chance. I told him a year away would be great for regaining my strength and that I would return a stronger player.
“He understood, accepted my decision and helped me accomplish it.”
Sahin spent the first six months of this term at Liverpool, before ending that loan deal early to return to Borussia Dortmund, where he is now on loan until June 2014.
“What happened in Liverpool was... [Sahin sighs]. It was very difficult. This isn't the time to discuss it. Returning to Dortmund was the best thing for me. We're in the Champions League, I know the Coach, my teammates, I have my family near me and my wife and children are happy here...
“And coming back here was important for my game too, to feel the feelings I had before I left. My goal is to regain the status of best player in the Bundesliga and I feel that I'm well on the way to doing that.”
Sahin will now face Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
“Can we beat Madrid? Sure, why not? Dortmund won in the group stage and can do it again, although Real is a much better team now than it was then. It will be a tough game, because I know what winning La Decima means to them. The club's players and fans want the 10th European Cup, but we want to win the Champions League too.
“Both teams want to win. None of our players have ever won the Champions League and on Real Madrid's squad there are only three or four who have, so both teams really want to win.
“For Real Madrid, La Decima means everything, but it does for us too, because we haven't won the League or the Cup either.”